top of page

Saturn's return

Reflecting on the magic of turning 30

By Rebekah Hall Scott

Me at around age 4, never far from my jelly sandals or a patch of clover

Lately I’ve been talking with my friends about our Saturn Returns. In astrology, this refers to the time when the planet Saturn returns to the same place it was when you were born. It takes around 30 years for Saturn to come back around, and those squeezing years of growth at the end of our twenties — and again at the end of our 50s, and again at the end of our 80s — are said to be powerful times for shifting and transitioning. Specifically, I can’t stop thinking about this tweet by one of my favorite thinkers and writers, Gabi Abrão of Sigh Swoon:

An initiation. That’s what the past year has felt like, as if I am being ushered into a new understanding of myself. It’s been a time of sloughing off and shedding what doesn’t serve me – ideas about myself, perceived truths about my life – and gaining insight into my own patterns. I’ve been contemplating the idea of three decades, three sets of ten. As I reach 30, I find myself looking back to my origins.


When my parents tell me about myself as a child, I’m sometimes jealous of the girl in the picture they paint. In their tellings I am a tough nut to crack, not effusive with my approval, holding a steady gaze with my hands on my hips. In their stories I seem so sure of the existence of fairies, not just that I believed in them but that I knew they were there. They tell me about myself shaking the spring flowers off the crepe myrtle trees in our front yard, collecting the white and fuchsia blooms in a leftover cottage cheese container and placing it on my windowsill as a bed for the fairies who came to visit me while I slept. I remember doing this through the hazy vision of my own memory, hard to separate what’s mine and what’s become mine from repeated telling over the years. It makes me wish I could go back and float above these moments as an adult, see myself then through the eyes I have now.

I understand, in a theoretical sense, that the experience of parenthood is one of holding all the selves of your child. You are able to fully integrate their beginnings with all those stages leading up to the present one. You have a unique vision and perspective on those layers of your child’s self, a front row seat to the traits they’ve always had and the traits that have come with time. It seems both natural and confounding, then, that as the grown up child, as the individual, it’s harder for me to visualize this integration, even though I’m living in the act of it all the time.

Do I picture the inner self as layers, like a stack of playing cards, and I am stacking new cards on top of the deck with each new day? And when I’m accessing a memory, or searching for a clue from the past to make sense of a moment in the present, am I shuffling through that deck of cards? Or is it gooier than that, less structured than that? Is the image of a playing card too limited by its flatness and its edges, and the layers of self are instead more like a swirling potion into which I am constantly pouring? An experience or thought or feeling occurs and is subsumed within the rest of me, like adding grated ginger to a broth that then becomes flavored by it entirely. If that’s the correct analogy, it seems to me that one can’t draw a memory from the mixture without it being flavored by the context within which it swims. If we follow this model, the insight I feel that I’ve arrived to at 30 is the result of trying to understand this soup, identify and name some of its ingredients.

In my quest to understand – to name the ingredients – there are themes that keep swimming into my vision, pushing up underneath my skin, knocking on the door of my heart. One of the most insistent of these is a new understanding of an ancient knowledge, one we’re all born with, and that’s the vitalness of imagination, playfulness, and creativity. I think about the discoveries of my adulthood that have changed the way I consider myself and what I am capable of doing: teaching myself how to sew during the pandemic, tying thousands of knots to create the colorful fringed banners and backdrop for our wedding, making and drawing my own cards for celebrations with Art, doodling furniture and houses and bows and swirls on my notepads at work.

Every time I give myself permission to create, I am surprised by the windows the act opens inside of me. Fresh spring air gusts through me, as if to say, finally! Curtains flutter in that breeze, relieved by the force that moves them. And with every act of creation, there’s a vague sense of déjà vu, a faint pressure on the backs of my eyelids. Remember this? Remember how this feels? Remember when this came to me as naturally as waking and eating and kissing my parents goodnight? I am coming to understand that a necessary function of adulthood is returning to my essences. Closing a loop that’s been searching for her end, completing that electrical circuit by riding the generative force at my center. This brings me back to myself, back to that child who shakes flowers from the tree to provide respite for the magic that inevitably finds me.

A photo of a photo of me squinting into the sun, wearing an Azalea flower crown, somewhere in Tifton, Georgia

In letting myself give in to this desire to create, I have opened up doors to advocate for myself in other ways. Over the past two years, my work in therapy has centered on this self-advocacy, including advocating for myself to my own self. Finding my voice and using it in all areas of my life. This process has not been a linear one. Arriving at a moment of clarity in therapy doesn’t mean I can accept and utilize the lesson immediately and forevermore. It takes time to retroactively apply the new truth to my understanding of myself and my past, and it takes time, and repeated use, to experience its benefits in my ongoing life.

As with all tools and skills, the work I do in therapy builds upon itself. Some messages rise to the surface more often than others. For me, they have all been connected to the profoundness of my own agency. I have found that an essential part of understanding, believing, and using my own agency is loving myself. Practicing true, unflinching, genuine self-compassion. Accessing the kind of mercy that only I can give to myself. I have become deeply grateful for one of my fundamental qualities, which is that I am an action-taker, an executor, a doer. To turn this lens of actualization inwards, to point the beam of my focus towards investigating and loving my own self, has completed a part of my equation for wholeness that dangled unresolved for years. There is something on the other side of the equal sign, and I have put it there.

There is an almost unbridgeable gap between knowing something is true about yourself and acting on that awareness. The thread that connects knowledge to action is there, but it doesn’t start out strong. It’s a muscle one has to develop. But I have found that the practice of acting, of applying, is vital. It is all there is. It is the only way that ground is gained towards change.

I once listened to a soil scientist address a room full of farmers and homesteaders about how to improve the conditions of their land. He pulled up a slide and read its text: “A change is not always better, but better is always a change.” The simplicity of this missive, its efficient frankness, struck me in its practicality, in the same way that I am often struck by knowledge shared among people whose lives deal in the uncertainty of our earth. I have brought this phrase up to Art many times, shared it with friends, turned it over and over in my mind like a worry stone in my pocket. It has so much to give us. The thing you try may not bring you the results you want, but the results you want will only come from trying something differently than what you're doing now. No progress is made in stasis. Any accidental revelation that swims into a stagnant pool will find no purchase there.

To resist the call to create is to resist the call to grow, to know oneself just that much deeper. I am guilty of this suppression. It’s tricky when your inner voice, that first line of defense, is acting to protect you from a perceived risk of embarrassment – the embarrassment that comes with trying in earnest to do something. Releasing the pressure valve that is perfectionism relieves me of the notion that I have to be great at something the first time I do it, or the second time, or the third. The joy is in the movement of my hands, the concentration of my knitted brow, little dots of marker on my fingers. Creation asks me to be present with myself.

As I face the horizon of the decade before me, and the decades to follow that, I feel ready to run straight into it. I’ve let my hair grow long again, and it makes me feel like myself. But now my curls are dappled with silver threads that glint when they catch the sun. I never plan to dye them. They feel earned. Nothing makes me feel witchier, holier, more powerful than this visual cue of my progress along time’s wheel. And if you met a fairy in real life, wouldn’t you know her by the way she seems to shimmer?


bottom of page